We took on a big project this summer that we've been wanting too since we moved into this house four years ago and we are finally (almost) done! It took the whole summer, and my handsome hard-working husband's muscles, and the help of many friends and family, but we're so grateful to have this one checked off the list. (literally, one of my 100 small things!)
You know how you watch those home reno tv shows and these people's homes are transformed in a matter of a weekend and it all seems so easy? Like, heck yes we can do a full kitchen remodel in three days!
However, this is not how it happens in real life.
Technically this project began four years ago when we first moved in, the initial phases at least. When we first moved in, the landscape around the house and yard was wild and unruly. We've spent the last four years cutting it back and trying to get it manageable. This shot here is a way before photo - as in what our house looked like on the day we moved in. (within that first week, we had all of those bushes/trees trimmed back, but ya know, for transformation's sake)
So, maintenance, trimming down, removing rocks, weeding out for the past four years, and then finally cut to this past May, and we were ready to make our first headway in getting the outside patios started.
We began by removing many of the bushes and trees from the flowerbeds surrounding the house. Both in the front, where we had marked out where we wanted to extend the porch, and also in various places in the back where they had become too overgrown or cumbersome for maintaining. We did this as a family, me and the girls in the truck that were tied up to the plants/bushes while Brandon and Grey dug up/helped the roots come undone.
Meanwhile, we were also going about living out our normal lives (work, teeball games, gymnastics, karate, celebrations, etc) - so we had to work slowly on the days we were home and had nice weather.
But by June, we had moved into full on demolition mode: blasting out bricks and cement (by hand) in the areas that we were changing. B got to the brick pillars from the front stoop as the kids and I all cheered with each whack. The kids even got in on some of the demo action (me too!) but it was mostly Brandon's back and biceps that did all the work.
July consisted of more demolition and preparation. We had a few stubborn bushes to pull out, patio measurements to frame out, and Bud had more concrete to bust out (on the side patio area). We had an enormous delivery of rocks poured into our driveway that Brandon (and the girls as ride-alongs) transported scoop by scoop via the tractor to the front and side patio areas to prepare for the concrete pour. Grey liked 'working' alongside Brandon with his little shovel and rake, but most all he loved climbing and sliding back down the rock pile (duh).
By August, we were finally ready to pour concrete! With the guidance and teaching from my Dad (a concrete pouring master!), he and B got the forms ready and concrete ordered bright and early on a Saturday morning.
I am always overcome with gratitude when I see how our family and friends come together to help us. Butter and Uncle Jonny showed up alongside my Dad and Brandon that morning and busted their butts in the morning sun to get our new patio looking beautiful. The kids watched in amazement (and provided commentary) while I whipped up cookies and lunch and provided pitchers of water and beer.
In September, it was time to get the other two slabs poured (after more measurements and framing out, including an area that we could insert our fire ring right into the patio -thanks Dad for the octagon frame!-) and this time we had Dad, Brandon, Pappy, Uncle Matt, and Mark show up to spend half a day on a Saturday morning helping us finish up the patio pouring. Again, overwhelmed with how lucky we are to have such hard-working and knowledgeable guys in our lives that are willing to help (and teach) us!
The transformation after all of the patio was poured was awesome. It even had a surprise bonus that we hadn't considered initially - that the kids had a great space to ride their bikes and scooters now, right up near the house! We were still in need of some landscaping though to add the finishing touches. Luckily, we have family in the Greenhouse business (Stuver's Nursery) and our cousin Jesse was awesome with helping us pick out the perfect plants, trees, and perennials for the spaces we wanted to fill.
Once we had the landscape, Brandon got to work again digging, planting, and mulching all in time even for Violet's birthday party (Bless that man, honestly).
And now, we are down to only building up steps on the front and side patios to the house (at this point, we are so used to stepping up that high to get into the house -for the past four years- that to have a normal step into the house is going to be downright bizzare, hah). We'd also like to build a bench for around the fire ring, that seems like maybe a good project for next summer :)
The patios feel a lot more like 'us.' A place for the kids to play, for us to enjoy eating outside (our favorite) and sitting around the fire. A great place to entertain (also one of our favorites) and I'm eternally grateful to have a husband who works so hard himself to get the projects done, but also to learn and listen from our Dads, and to teach and have patience with our own kids as they try to 'help.'
We work well together because I get the big ideas and I can see the vision.
Brandon on the other hand is the one that (amazingly) trusts my ideas and puts in the sweat to get there.
He's a good man, that guy of mine.
(hi Bud, I love you. Thank you)